SUBSTITUTE Aaron Wilbraham denied Rovers what would have been an excellent away point when he struck two minutes from time at Ashton Gate.

In front of Bristol City’s largest home crowd for 26 years, the big striker’s deflected shot beat a wrong-footed Jason Steele to deny Owen Coyle’s side a deserved draw on the road.

That sent the 20,000-plus locals out into the chill evening delighted, but the long trip back to East Lancashire was made much longer by the sickening sucker punch.

Coyle named an unchanged side from Tuesday night’s excellent 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest, his only change on the bench where Jack Byrne came in for Anthony Stokes after the striker went down with food poisoning earlier this week.

Rovers made a decent start under overcast skies, with Ben Marshall finding space on the right of the City box to fire in a shot that was deflected wide off Scott Golbourne.

The Rovers winger then tried to turn provider with two good crosses, the first headed behind by Aden Flint for a corner and the second seeing Marvin Emnes attempt an ambitious overhead kick that was tame and wide.

City had their first sniff of goal when Luke Freeman’s curling free-kick from the left evaded everyone in the box and Tommie Hoban was on hand to whack it clear.

The hosts then picked up two bookings in two minutes. First Flint saw yellow for felling Craig Conway as Rovers tried to break down the left, before Jamie Paterson went in high and late on Danny Guthrie, leaving the midfielder needing treatment.

Coyle’s side, obviously buoyed by their recent success, looked organised and had done enough to quieten the expectant masses down.

And they continued to create chances. Emnes, putting in a typically hard-working performance, and Derrick Williams tried to work an opening on the left hand side of the Robins’ box but were closed down.

So instead they laid the ball back for Corry Evans who failed to keep his 20-yard effort down.

Williams, back on his old stomping ground, then flighted a lovely ball over the top for Conway to race down the flank. His cross looked inch-perfect, but somehow Marshall couldn't connect as he raced towards the penalty spot.

Lee Tomlin was off target with a shot from the edge of the box as City finally found some rhythm, and then showed his cheeky side with a Rabona pass to Tammy Abraham but the striker had wandered offside.

The Rovers defence was caught out as the hosts kept the pressure up, Adam Matthews’ cross from deep just missing Abraham and hitting the back of Gary O’Neil’s head before they finally got it clear.

But the half ended with Rovers on top again, Marshall curling a free-kick straight at City's Blackburn-born goalkeeper Frank Fielding before Emnes and Hoban both missed the target from long range.

Williams' return to his former club was ended by injury on 50 minutes as he was replaced by Charlie Mulgrew.

The stoppage seemed to suit the Robins better as two long throw-ins from Matthews caused havoc in the Blackburn penalty area.

Steele had to dive at the feet of Korey Smith after the ball ran free to him in the six-yard box and the goalkeeper was then relieved to see Tomlin’s attempted chip fall straight into his arms.

Rovers would have expected a response after the restart, and they got it as Paterson wasted a great chance when he spooned a shot over from 20 yards out. His reaction showed he knew he should have at least hit the target.

‘Come on City’ boomed from the stands, which still held a whiff of fresh concrete and just-dried paint, as the local sensed the time had come for a breakthrough.

But Rovers responded and should have taken the lead when Marshall played in Gallagher with a slide-rule pass that the young striker cutback delightfully. Unfortunately, the cross was two yards behind Conway who otherwise had an open goal at his mercy.

The winger then tried to tee up Gallagher as he skipped to the byline but again the final ball lacked accuracy.

City boss Lee Johnson brought on Wilbraham as he looked to go more direct. However, it was another sub, Joe Bryan, who initially looked more likely to make a difference.

The wing-back put in a low cross that just missed everyone as it swerved into the Rovers danger area. He got his shooting boots out moments later after cutting in from the right, but his effort was blocked.

Marshall tested Fielding with a strong shot that the keeper tipped over as Rovers looked to pinch all three points.

But there was a sting in the tail when, two minutes from time, Wilbraham latched on to long punt upfield. 

Abraham went down as he raced to support but the referee waved play on and the former Crystal Palace forward cut in onto his left foot to fire off a shot that took a huge deflection to beat the wrong-footed Steele.

Rovers had minutes to salvage something but couldn't muster a decent chance as their unbeaten record came to an end.